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2017 – looking ahead

2017

Yes, I do know that the first month of 2017 is almost over. I began this at the start of the month, but then being busy happened and I’ve only just got around to finishing it off.

‘What have you been busy doing?’ I hear you ask, well, let me tell you.

Among other things, I’ve been adding new items to my Etsy Store as well as improving the listings of the items already available.

Image of pedal to the floor card available to buy in 2017

I’ve also set up a shop on Redbubble. This site uses a different model to selling as they are responsible for the printing and distribution of items once sold, which means a greater range of products can be made available, from art prints to leggings (yes, really) and from clocks to phone cases, without any additional cost to myself. However, this means that less of the money from the sale comes to me. I’m not sure if this going to work for me, but the only way to find out is to try it and see. Have a look at my shop here, I’ll be adding more images over the coming weeks.A robin sitting on a fence post

In the last week or so I also did a photo shoot with singer/songwriter Jamie R Hawkins, which was a lot of fun. It was also a little on the cold side, although that was more of an issue for Jamie than myself. You know it’s been a good shoot when you end up lying down on the cold ground to take shots and also dodging traffic between taking photos. Hopefully I’ll be able to share some of the results of the shoot sometime soon.

What does 2017 hold for me?

Well, I don’t actually know, because I’m not  psychic… I guess the real question is what am I planning to do this year. In general terms it’s really a case of more of the same, except, well, more.

New website

I intend to give my website a complete overhaul. It will include more up to date examples of my photos. It will hopefully also have a shop so you can buy direct from me, quickly and simply. After I have redone the site, it should be easier to understand what I can do for you.

Working with bands and artist will remain a large part of what I do. Collaborating with other creative people is always rewarding.

I am also planning to keep you updated with what I am doing by blogging at least once a month. Something for you to look forward to.

Dismaland

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This is something I’ve been meaning to Blog about for a while now, not sure why I’m doing it now, but well, why not? I say a while, since September would be the more accurate way of putting it, because that’s when I went  to Banksy’s Dismaland, in Weston-super-Mare. It took me and my friend just over an hour to drive there and after queuing for a few hours, in the wind and sometimes rain coming in off the sea, we finally made it to the bit where you pay and duly paid the £3 entry fee.

The beach at Weston-super-Mare and the sea aquarium
As we walked from the bit where you paid for Dismaland and to the actual entrance of the former Tropicana site, I got stopped for a bag search, which is what we’ve come to expect in recent years wherever you go. As well as the things you’d normally expect them to be looking for, they were also looking for pens and anything you might be able to use to deface the art works with. They were also interested in the size of the lens on my camera. The lens I had on was my 28 – 300mm zoom lens, which is a chunky bit of kit. The security person conducting the search (I say search, he never once touched my possessions as I was willingly showing him the contents of my bag) looked at it and said something along the lines of, ‘Hmmm, I think that might be too big. They don’t like it if you’ve got too big a lens.’

I was a little taken aback as I had checked the website before going to make sure I would be allowed to take my camera, and I didn’t see any mention about restrictions. I looked at the man in question in a slightly puzzled way and he sort of shrugged his shoulders. ‘I don’t really know about these things, but they might ask you to leave.’ I wasn’t going to argue with him, as he was just doing his job (and he was also a lot bigger than me). ‘I’ve got a smaller lens, will that be OK?’ I asked, more concerned about avoiding having to traipse back to my car if I couldn’t take it in, than I was with not being able to take my camera in with me. ‘They’ll probably be OK with that,’ He said. So I changed my lens outside, in the wind blowing off the sand (mud) of the beach – with a few spots of rain thrown in for good measure – before carrying on into Dismaland.

a CCTV Camera on the ceiling
I spent some time thinking through the reasoning behind me having to change my lens, and to an extent I can understand it; they don’t want people taking photos of artwork and making prints to sell, meaning the artists miss out on income. But my ability to do that, should I have wanted to do that, would not have been hampered by putting on the different lens. Also, most camera phones are capable of producing images of high enough quality to reproduce prints theses days, so the whole thing seemed very odd. I guess they couldn’t stop people using their phones, people suffer some kind of anxiety attack if they have have their phones off for five minutes these days.

an old horn shaped speaker for a public address system
I went there as both a person interested in the art work and as a photographer. As a member of the public who likes art, I took photos of the artwork on display. These images I won’t be sharing, other than with close friends and family, as they act as a record of things I have seen; most people taking photos do so for the memories.

the reflections of people in a large puddle
As a photographer (artist) I took photos of what I observed in that particular environment, at that moment in time. You may well be asking yourself what the difference is. Taking photos of other people’s artwork isn’t artistic. Other people’s artwork can constitute a part of your photograph, but only if you’re adding a different context to it or making it a small part of something much larger. Here is a selection of photos from that day spent in Dismaland.

rope through a hole on a wooden post with two holes above that looks like a shocked face

a woman's legs in blue jeans wearing shiny Dr. Martin boots

an old vetilation system

an I am an imbecile balloon stuck on the inside of a corrugated roof

HOW I PROVED SOMETHING TO MYSELF BY GETTING DRUNK*

I’ve always known organising and forward planning isn’t my strongest trait. This was reinforced on my birthday this year. My birthday is in the summer, when there are a lot of things going on, people are on holiday or at festivals or at BBQs, or have no money left because of any number of the aforementioned reasons, so it can be very hard to organise a celebration of my birth. It’s even more difficult when you only give people a few hours notice and that’s what happened this year, so very few people were able to celebrate with me. This sort of got me down a little, not so much because I didn’t get to see some of the people I wanted to see, but because it really brought it home to me how disorganised I was, and when I thought about I realised that it was something that was affecting every aspect of my life, to a greater or lesser extent. And while I was allowing myself a little bit of self-pity wallowing, I said to myself ‘I couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery.’
empty chairs and table in a bar
And the me of a year ago would have left it at that, but I’m a different me now (I think), so I did something about it. And that something was to organise a piss up in a brewery. OK, so it wasn’t an actual brewery, but a pub with a microbrewery, but that’s  not really the point. The point is that because of me there was a group of people who knew each other (or at least they’d all met each other by the end of the night) in the same place, at the same time, drinking alcohol, and more than one of these persons had reached a state of inebriation* by the end of the night, so I’m counting it as a success. I can now say I can organise a piss up in a (sort of) brewery.*
the wall of a pub with old photos of people playing skittles and a light up sign the says tourists
What has this got to do with photography? Well, I’ve always got several on-going projects, and more I want to start, as well as commissioned shoots to do. There’s also the promotion and marketing to do, and all the other admin stuff. As I’ve already said, planning and organisation are not my strongest points, but that’s something I need, and want, to improve. Now I’ve proved to myself that I am capable of planning something, I can build on that and move things forward. Other people might not use drinking* as a way to start self-improvement, but I did.

an empty pint glass and a full pint glass

*Please drink responsibly

Things Change

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I think if I could go back in time and tell myself one thing, it would be that everything changes (at least that’s what I’d go back and tell myself now; it’ll probably change). Life changes, you change, your friends change, the people you love change (in both senses), how you view the world changes, how the world views you changes. Everything and everyone grows, and evolves, and changes and is changed.

I can be quite proud and stubborn about things. If I say I will do something, or not doing something, then I will, or will not, do it, regardless of evidence that doing things differently would be to everyone’s benefit (especially my own). I guess this comes from fear. A fear of being wrong. A fear of looking foolish.
stairs leading down to the door of an underground club
There is another way to look at this though because there is a fine line between stubbornness and determination, between pride and self belief. And I guess where the lines fall is very much subjective, so it’s anyone’s guess where those lines might be.
What has any of this got to do with photography? Well, I’ve been having doubts recently as to whether photography is a viable way for me to earn an income. There are areas of photography that are a lot more lucrative than others, they take a lot of hard work and talent to do properly, but the financial rewards are greater and a lot easier to work as a ‘business model’. The things I want to do with my photography do not fall into this category. I knew this from the outset, but I was determined to do things my way, and I guess I’m beginning to wonder if my determination has changed into stubbornness.
empty bottles in a club, people dancing in the background

So, do I stick to my guns and do things my way, producing the work I want to? Or do I change my approach to things and go where the money is? For now I’m going to back myself, but I’m open to change in the future.silhouette of a band & the audience

Thoughts on my first exhitbition

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Or my battle with gravity

I say my first exhibition, I did exhibit at the end of my year long college course, about 6 years ago but I’m not sure that really counts. This one was in Trowbridge Town Hall, as part of ‘Trowbridge Arts Festival’.

As it was my first public exhibition, I’m not really sure how to judge it. I’ve no idea how it should have gone. I certainly learned a lot. Like when it comes to sticky Velcro Vs Gravity, if you try to be environmentally friendly and reuse sticky Velcro dots (even if they’ve ‘still got some stick to them’) Gravity tends to win. This was evidenced by falling prints, which resulted in broken mount boards. Net result, less environmentally friendly.

My problems with gravity reoccurred later in the week. This time up against Gravity, it was display boards (of the unstable, on their last legs verity), on which my work was mounted. This resulted in more damaged mount boards and a dent on one of the prints, which i hope was only noticeable to me as I was looking at them for such damage. The display boards were fixed with the liberal application of gaffer tape, (because if you can’t fix it with gaffer tape, you haven’t used enough) which seemed to a make them last the next couple of days until the end of the exhibition.

I also learned to ask more questions, about the amount of space I would have to exhibit in. I could have displayed more of my work, which would hopefully have resulted in more interest.

I met some lovely people, and everyone was very supportive and complimentary about the work I had on display.  I also met some ‘interesting’ members of public, which having recently left a public facing job, was something I thought I’d left behind.

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